Perhaps Farhad Moshiri thought that turning up to watch his team in the flesh for the first time since October 2021 would inspire Everton. Or maybe he just wanted to set his expert gaze over proceedings and judge for himself where Frank Lampard’s team are going wrong.
Either way Everton have spiraled out of control under Moshiri’s abysmal ownership and, for all that the immediate blame for yet another sorry defeat will fall at Lampard’s feet, anyone with any perspective will know that a change of manager is not all it will take to halt this damaged club’s decline.
The chants of “sack the board” that emanated from the away end during the dying stages were a good indication of the mood. Can anything save Everton? Only goal difference is keeping them off the foot of the table and nothing about their performance during this limp defeat to West Ham, whose first league win since 24 October lifted them out of the bottom three, suggested that they will be a Premier League team next season.
At times it seemed Everton were trying to do David Moyes a favour. Their former manager was under extreme pressure and probably would have been sacked if West Ham had lost again. Everton could have made Moyes sweat. The problem was that their failure to defend or attack with any conviction meant that the game was over as a contest by half-time.
This was Moshiri’s first chance to study Lampard team and what he saw was Everton collapse as soon as West Ham lifted their level. Rarely can a team scrapping for survival have defended with such little heart. It was not enough for Lampard to argue that his team had offered some encouraging flashes with some neat approach play. Everton were blunt in the final third and when the blows arrived in a blistering seven-minute spell, Jarrod Bowen twice punishing awful defending, what really stood out was how easy it had been for the hosts.
It was not a flawless display from West Ham. Tougher tests lie in wait, though Moyes was entitled to feel positive. The afternoon had started with an emotional tribute to the late David Gold and Moyes would speak afterwards about the support he has received from his bosses. It was about keeping things in perspective. West Ham are still in the FA Cup, have reached the last 16 of the Europa Conference League and have given Moyes funds to build.
Then again, there is nothing quite like 90 minutes in the company of Everton to lift the mood. The visitors, who matched West Ham’s 3-4-2-1 system, started well. Everton had control early on and West Ham’s inability to seize the initiative had risked irritating the home support, who would even aim a few boos at their team after 25 minutes of sterile football.
Briefly, it was tempting to wonder if Everton’s civil war was ending. After staying away from Goodison Park when Everton lost to Southampton last weekend, Moshiri, Bill Kenwright and their fellow directors were at the London Stadium and would witness a mildly encouraging display at first.
Yet familiar failings plagued Everton, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin isolated and Demarai Gray ineffective. Their best chance fell to Yerry Mina, who scooped over when the game was goalless, and they were shaky as soon after West Ham responded to the crowd’s demands for more urgency.
Saïd Benrahma was soon extending Jordan Pickford. West Ham were making their physicality count and they led when a cross from their left wing-back, Emerson Palmieri, exposed the weaknesses in Everton’s defending.
Kurt Zouma, back from injury and impressing alongside Nayef Aguerd and Angelo Ogbonna at the back, wanted it more than James Tarkowski and Conor Coady. It was too easy for Zouma to flick the ball on and there was too much space for Bowen, who rushed in to guide a simple finish over Pickford.
West Ham are always more dangerous when Bowen, who hadn’t scored a league goal since 9 October, is on song. Also influential was Michail Antonio, who made the second goal when he rumbled past a soft tackle from Tarkowksi. Everton had fallen apart and, with Mina and Amadou Onana standing still, Bowen turned in Antonio’s cross.
The second half was a non event. Emerson hit the bar, Declan Rice shot just wide and West Ham gave their fans a glimpse of their new signing, Danny Ings. For Lampard, it was another blow. What he would give to have a striker like Ings. He is working with very little. The question now is whether Everton decides to hand the job to someone else.